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Hamas: Abbas can't investigate himself

Oct. 4, 2009 2:10 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 6, 2009 10:14 P.M.)
Ramallah/Gaza – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered an investigation into why his own government delayed international action on a United Nations report calling for investigations on alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Reacting to this decision, the ruling Hamas movement in Gaza said the investigation was not enough. Party spokesperson Ismail Radwan said since Abbas is himself the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), he cannot investigate the PLO’s actions.

“We do not need to form a national investigating committee but to form a committee to bring to account those responsible [for the decision,]" Radwan said.

There was an outpouring of public anger at Abbas and his leadership when the PLO mission to the UN in Geneva dropped its endorsement of Justice Richard Goldstone’s report in the UN Human Rights Council last week. The PLO’s move, reportedly under US pressure, led the Council to delay action on Gaza until March 2010.

The secretary of the PLO Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo said in a statement, “after deliberations among President Abbas and members of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, President Abbas issued a decree to form a committee to find the reasons behind postponement of the debate on Goldstone’s report at the UN Human Rights Council.

“The mission of the committee will be specifying the responsibilities concerning this issue and to submit a report to PLO Executive Committee within two weeks,” the statement added.

National consensus against deferral

In Gaza, the leaders of nationalist and Islamic political factions held a meeting to discuss the deferral of action on the UN’s report on Gaza. After the meeting, Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad Al-Hindi said that the factions agreed there needed to be an independent investigation into how the decision was made.

Al-Hindi said the factions also agreed to hold a “popular conference” in Gaza on Monday to give voice to what he said was a “national consensus” against “this dangerous precedent.”

“Those convening [the meeting] reject all of the naïve, misleading, contradictory justifications that were mentioned to excuse the postponement decision.”

Al-Hindi also said the groups praised the PLO itself for opposing the deferral and seeking an independent investigation.

Gaza-based Fatah leader Abdullah Abu Samhadana said his movement is part of a national consensus that rejects the decision to postpone action on the Goldstone report.

The PLO’s apparent capitulation in the Human Rights Council was widely denounced by the political factions, civil society organizations and the families of the victims of Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza last winter.

The latest official to condemn the PLO’s actions in the Human Rights Council was Salim Zanoun, the speaker of the Palestinian National Council (PNC). In a statement issued on Sunday afternoon, he said he was “shocked” at the decision to delay action on the report.

Zanoun said he supported calls for an investigation to find out who was responsible for the Geneva move.

According to the news agency AFP, Palestinian Authority Minister of National Economy Bassem Khoury tendered his resignation over the PA's involvement in the deferral of the Goldstone report. In an interview with Ma’an however, he refused to confirm or deny this report.

Also on Saturday, a coalition of 16 Palestinian human rights and legal organizations condemned the PA and PLO leadership in a news conference in Gaza.

“As human rights organizations we strongly condemn the Palestinian leaderships’ decision to defer the proposal endorsing all the recommendations of the Fact Finding Mission, and the pressure exerted by certain members of the international community,” the organizations said in a statement read at the news conference.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” the groups said.
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